El Moro Perplexed Over 911 Solution

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Plans to reprogram a cell tower to forward 911 calls directly to the police department is proving more difficult than anticipated, reported the Laguna Beach Independent. The tower is located behind El Moro Elementary School (CA) and some parents are concerned about safety measures for their children.

Currently, 80 percent of 911 calls are routed to the Newport Beach police instead of the Laguna Beach police, per a 2007 regulation where towers send 911 calls to the agency receiving the greatest call volume.

 As a former telecommunications executive, Councilmember Sue Kempf said, “It doesn’t make any sense to me why these calls are ping-ponging around.”  

City Manager John Pietig added, “Frankly, I think the solution is going to be technological. This is not only a problem in Laguna Beach but throughout the United States, and I believe the technology exists to address it. It just hasn’t been implemented.”

The Independent noted that the roll-out of 5G and more small cells could improve the triangulation of cell phone users’ location and 911 call routing. In the meantime, as a stop-gap measure, a dedicated phone number that parents can call for a Laguna Beach police dispatch was suggested. Other parents are more focused on the end goal. “I would probably never recommend calling a number for dispatch…911 is an emergency service number,” said parent Spencer Samuelian. “My concerns get solved with a dedicated SRO at El Morro.”

November 4, 2019

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